What does Halitosis Smell Like?

Halitosis, which is often simply called bad breath, can be intrusive and embarrassing. For some patients, modifying their oral hygiene, diet and lifestyle does not improve their bad breath. In some cases, bad breath can be an early sign of a more serious medical condition. It is true that not all bad breath smells the same. This article will discuss different types of bad breath which may warrant a required trip to the dentist.

Rotten Eggs

Breath which smells like rotten eggs often indicates an issue that stems from the digestive tract. Because the gut microbiota breaks down sulfur, an eggy-smelling gas is released. Causes for this can include Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD. GERD occurs when the stomach acids creep back up the esophagus.

Sweet or Fruity

Ketoacidosis, which is a complication of diabetes, often gives the breath a sweet or fruity smell. This occurs because diabetic patients commonly suffer from an inadequate production of insulin which causes the burning of fats and results in the production of ketones. Ketones then produce a fruity odor which is similar to acetone. This odor can also be caused by chronic kidney failure, which is another symptom of diabetes.

Moldy or Fungus Aroma

In some cases, microbial buildups, growths, or sinus infections contribute to a breath which smells moldy or similar to fungus. Sinus infections often causes a thick, yellowish or green mucus to drip from the nose down the back of the throat. As we breathe, a surplus of microbes, foreign particles, and metabolites build up and result in a very unpleased breath odor.


As terrible as it may sound, if your breath smells like fecal matter, it is very likely that you have an obstructed bowel. A bowel obstruction occurs when the stool begins to back up, and the large and/or small intestines are no longer able to process the waste. Breath which smells like poop, in combination with constipation is a good sign that you have a bowel obstruction.


Your kidneys are responsible for creating urine. The kidneys remove toxic chemicals from the blood. When the kidneys become so damaged that they are no longer able to filter waste, the toxins and waste begin to accumulate throughout the body. This condition can result in breath that smells fishy.

The treatment for bad breath greatly depends on the underlying cause. Initial treatment efforts can include solutions such as improved oral hygiene, tongue cleaning, use of mouthwash and flossing. While there is some evidence of patients showing an improvement from the use of a tongue cleaner, it not sufficient enough to draw substantial conclusions. It can be productive to treat any underlying disease which may include gum disease, tooth decay or gastroesophageal reflux disease in order to properly address bad breath.

Dental Care and Bad Breath

For many patients, bad breath is the result of one or two different things; a lack of or poorly executed oral hygiene or lifestyle choices which can include diet, medication or tobacco use. In some cases, specific mouth odors may be an indicator of a greater health issue. Schedule an appointment with your dentist right away if you have bad breath which is giving you concern. Your dentist can help identify the cause and work with you on a long-term solution.

More on Halitosis : Is Halitosis a Sign of Illness?

Our Award Winning Services

Patients will be educated on the type of dentistry they need and will never feel pressured or receive any sales pitch to have treatment.

You will always know the fee before treatment is performed.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Porcelain Veneers

Teeth Whitening

Restorative Care

Dental Implants

Dental Bridges

Root Canal Therapy


Children's Dentistry

Periodontal Care

Dental Emergencies

Family Dentistry

Night Guards

Snoring Appliances


Actual Patient Reviews

We have so many terrific reviews it's impossible for us to list them all! Thanks for supporting Iowa Dental Group with your gratitude.

Dental Office Location

Iowa Dental Group prides ourselves in offering the highest quality dentistry at a fair and reasonable fee.

Iowa Dental Group Des Moines

1233 63rd Street
Des Moines, Ia 50311
(515) 277-6358


Iowa Dental Group Contact Form

Our Des Moines' Dentists Bob Margeas DDS & Nicholas Economos are eager to help provide any answers you may have. Contact us today regarding optimal oral health.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Please enter a valid phone number.
Please type your message.

Dentist Office Hours

Our Dentists look forward to answering any dentistry related questions or dental concerns you may have regarding your overall oral health and smile.

Iowa Dental Group proudly serves the following areas.

Office Hours
Monday:7:30am - 5:00pm
Tuesday:7:30am - 5:00pm
Wednesday:7:30am - 5:00pm
Thursday:7:30am - 5:00pm